Internship Expands Diversity in Arts Leadership
August 21, 2019
by Hanna Merzbach BA ’20
This summer, Andrea Lewis BA ’21 joined a national cohort of 24 interns in the Diversity in Arts Leadership (DIAL) program. A double major in art history and world languages from Berkeley, California, Lewis spent 10 weeks in New York City empowering underserved youth through arts and mentoring programs.
Administered by Americans for the Arts, DIAL works to expand diversity in arts administration by matching undergraduate students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds to leadership positions at arts nonprofits in Des Moines, New Jersey, or New York City. Lewis was selected for an internship at Free Arts NYC.
“I felt a calling to be among other people of color who are interested in the arts,” Lewis said. “I knew I was interested in public engagement in museums and possibly working with kids. I was really drawn to the vibrancy of New York City and the art world.”
Free Arts NYC provides arts and mentoring programs to underserved youth, 50 percent of whom hail from shelters throughout NYC’s five boroughs. The nonprofit is a leader in corporate social responsibility, partnering with more than 50 corporations to offer hands-on art activities. Corporate volunteers are paired with underserved youth during free art days for an afternoon of mentoring and creating art.
Through the course of her internship, Lewis worked with more than 2,500 young people and helped plan 41 free art events. She was also responsible for maintaining relationships with corporate sponsors and identifying new sponsors. She made it her goal to find corporations more reflective of the communities they are working with.
“As of now we are working with predominantly white, financial-type corporations, and the community of kids that we are serving live within the shelter system,” Lewis said. “We are reaching out to kids who have low access to the arts. So we are doing art engagement, but we are also considering the work to be a form of professional building. A big mission of mine was to bring in different communities of professionals that would be beneficial to the growth of the kids.”
Lewis was able to live in New York, not known for its affordability, thanks to the Fowler and Levin Summer Internship Award, which helps Lewis & Clark students cover summer internship expenses.
“Without the assistance of the Fowler and Levin award, I wouldn’t have been able to go to New York,” Lewis said. “The Career Center was also really helpful in reviewing my resume and my essay, and helping me find money to fund myself out there.”
Learning how nonprofits work with corporations provided Lewis with an idea of the kind of career she could have in arts administration.
“Without this internship I would not have the grasp I have now on what positions are out there within the arts, because I had a very vague idea beforehand,” Lewis said. “After this internship, I am really grateful for having the experience and the exposure to different work environments and a broader sense of where I could go with my degree.”